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The Angel of the Crows, by Katherine Addison

Review copy provided by the publisher. Also the author is a personal friend.

This is an object lesson in the value of filing off serial numbers. Really, I mean that wholeheartedly and so very enthusiastically. Because this both is and is not a Sherlock Holmes story. It is clearly, plainly, not trying to hide it, inspired by Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes stories. And yet it is not a Sherlock Holmes story, it is clearly and firmly not, and the distance between Crow and Holmes, between Watson and Doyle, is enough to pour worlds into. It is not a technicality, it is an opening that lets in an entirely different kind of story.

This story would not be possible if I was comparing, at every turn, to my previously held view of Watson, saying, wait, what? Watson’s secrets are what? How does that square with what I previously know of Watson? Which things are alternate and which am I to keep? I am not to keep things, I am to trust what is built, not about Watson about this new character Dr. J. H. Doyle, whose experience in Afghanistan is not the same, because Doyle has been wounded by one of the Fallen, in a world where angels, vampires, werewolves, and hellhounds are part of the daily landscape.

And they are woven deeply into the fabric of this story. Addison knows the Jack the Ripper facts in our world incredibly well, so she knows how to use them deftly in a story that’s about so many more things. The fantasy elements go deeply into everything here, with thought and care, and the characters are layered and wonderful. I’m just so glad of this book.

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